Anyone who knows anything about the DC Universe knows that the mostly officially accepted origin story of the Joker is told in Alan Moore and Bryan Bolland’s horrifying, deeply disturbing 1988 graphic novel; The Killing Joke. Yes, that’s the one where the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon in the stomach, strips her naked, takes photos of her writhing in agony, and then displays those photos to Commissioner Gordon in an amusement park ride tunnel. No, we’re not joking, that actually happens. Look it up. Yes; ‘holy crap’ is the correct response. Superhero films have never dared go anywhere close to as dark as their comic book counterparts.
With that being said, the trailer for the new standalone origin story of The Joker has dropped, and fans have been quick to pour over it and share their opinions.
The first thing that most said was, rightly so, thank God it’s Joaquin Phoenix, and not Jared Leto. Sorry, Leto, Suicide Squad was perhaps the worst interpretation of the Joker anyone has ever seen. Talk about completely misunderstanding the source material.
DC Making A Comeback?
It’s obvious to everyone that has even glanced at a cinema lately that DC hasn’t exactly been keeping pace with the MCU. In fact, as Marvel has managed success after success, DC has produced about two films that got genuine praise. Wonder Woman being one, and the recent Shazam! being the other. Though, even as botched film after botched film limped into cinemas, most have had the same thought; why isn’t DC taking advantage of their biggest asset? Their villains.
This seems to be the motivation behind The Joker film. A risky step for DC, but from the reception of the newly released trailer, perhaps a very wise one.
Not many were exactly keen on seeing yet another clumsy, confused Justice League film; a franchise that seemed to be headed nowhere except for further train wrecks. If anything, the DCU is probably counting on Joker breathing new life into what was essentially becoming a bit of cringe-fest.
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It is immediately clear upon watching The Joker trailer that the DCU is once again leaning hard into the dark and gritty tone. The Justice League was a confused, desperate attempt to ape the light hearted tone of the Avengers, much to the dismay of audiences at large, so it’s good to see that Joker appears to have firmly decided on its tone. A very dark one, with a strong, artistic focus on gloomy lighting. Which is to say; not especially reflecting any light hearted comic book tones at all. Phew.
What can be gleaned is that a character named Arthur Fleck goes through a horrible psychological transformation, turning into the titular character. There is a focus on smiling through the hard times, or at least attempting to, regardless of how bad things get, and how grim and terrible life can be. Though, laughing at tragedy appears to also be the road to losing oneself completely. Fleck interacts with his mother in various moments of the trailer, and a few other characters, which appear to bring him genuine joy. But bet hard money on something terrible happening to each and every one of them.
Of course, by the end of the trailer, The Joker is revealed in his full comic book outfit, complete with classic purple suit and clown face.
Wait And See
Once again; response to the early trailer has been positive, but it is always wise to keep expectations in check. There seems to be no relation at all to the previously mentioned Killing Joke graphic novel, which has disappointed a few. But given that even attempting to capture what made The Killing Joke amazing would utterly horrify modern cinema goers, that is probably a good thing.
File this under the wait and see, cautiously optimistically department.